Wes continued to hold my hand as we followed Joseph down the sidewalk toward Founder’s Square. Surprisingly, most of the students watching us began to applaud. Two guys held hands as they stepped out from the crowd and joined us.
Darlene continued to take pictures of the crowd. I noticed numerous students taking pictures with their cell phones as we marched past them. “Are you as nervous as I am?” Wes asked as he clutched my hand tightly.
“If I get any more scared,” I laughed nervously, “I’m going to pee my pants.” He looked down at the khaki pants I was wearing and laughed.
We marched for about five minutes without incident. Occasionally, someone would holler out words of support. If anyone said anything derogatory, I didn’t hear it. Suddenly, Joseph held up his hand for us to stop marching. About twenty feet in front of us, six campus security officers stepped out of the crowd and blocked the sidewalk. Students began to assemble around the sides to watch what was happening.
A burly officer stepped forward and hollered into a bullhorn. “This is an unauthorized march,” he shouted loudly. “You are ordered to stop. If you continue, you will be arrested.” The other officers stepped behind him with batons in hand. If they were trying to intimidate us, they were doing a good job. Wes held me tightly around the waist as my legs became weak.
Joseph turned toward the group and looked around, staring into each of our faces. “This is it, Guys,” he said defiantly. “I’m going forward. If you want to drop out, now is the time to do it.” Three marchers, two girls and a boy, stepped away and joined the crowd assembled along the sidewalk.
I looked up at Wes and asked, “What do you want to do?”
He looked nervously at the police officers, then down at me and said, “March.”
“You sure?” He gripped my hand and squeezed it.
“Yes,” he said. “I didn’t get beat up for nothing.” Hearing his words assured me we were doing the right thing. Before we started forward, he leaned down and kissed me.
Joseph told us to march in groups of four, and to link arms tightly as we marched. He told us not to resist being arrested, but to sit down on the sidewalk and force them to carry us away. He looked around at the number of people who had their cell phones out taking pictures and recording us. “We want the world to see exactly what is happening- a group of students being arrested while marching peacefully.” Again, he looked at each of us. “Are you still in?” I looked up at Wes, and he nodded. I then looked at Joseph and nodded. He smiled slightly and winked at me. He took a step forward and announced loudly, “Let’s continue our march for gay injustice!” Students all around us started applauding loudly. Many yelled out words of support.
When we were about ten feet away from the officer who had shouted out the warning, he held up his hand to stop us. “I’m Police Chief Stewart. I am asking you to stop this unlawful assembly, or you will be arrested.” A loud chorus of “boo” arose from the crowd.
Joseph told him, “We are doing nothing wrong. We are marching peacefully to Founder’s Square to protest the injustices toward gay students.” Students around us began to applaud. “If you want to arrest us for doing that,” insisted Joseph, “then do it.”
Stewart looked over at the steps of a nearby building. Avery was standing looking down. He scowled angrily at us, and he then gave a quick nod toward the police chief.
We moved cautiously forward as we followed Joseph. My left arm was wrapped tightly around Wes’s. A girl was clutching tightly to my right arm.
Stewart looked again at Avery, and then he barked out loudly, “Stop or be arrested!” Students began to yell obscenities at the officers. I noticed eight more officers move into position behind the others.
When we were six feet away, Stewart stepped to the side, and several officers emerged from behind him and started spraying us with canisters of pepper spray. The next few minutes were chaotic. Students began to disperse as the gas permeated the air. We could hear people wildly shouting obscenities. Wes pulled me to the ground and covered me protectively with his body. I choked violently as I tried to gasp for air. I screamed out for Wes when I felt someone jerk me from the ground, place my hands behind my back and handcuff me.
Because of the pepper spray, I couldn’t see anything that was happening. My eyes were searing with pain, and I couldn’t breathe as I was led away. Someone was holding my arms as we walked about fifty feet away. “Sit down,” a voice yelled as I was pulled to the ground. I jumped when someone threw water on my eyes and began flushing the pepper spray from my face.
“Where’s Wes?” I screamed out.
“It’s okay, Dorian!” I heard him say about five feet away. “I’m not hurt. Are you?”
I hollered out, “I don’t think so,” as water was again thrown into my face. I could still hear students violently yelling out obscenities at the officers as I remained on the ground. Slowly, my vision began to return, and my breathing became less erratic.
When I regained my vision, I could see that the officers had placed the marchers on a curb as they flushed our eyes out with bottles of water. Two other marchers separated Wes and me on the curb. I wanted to get up and sit beside him, but I was afraid the officers would beat me if I moved. Joseph was at the end, hollering at the officers for arresting us. A throng of students were taking pictures and recording us as we sat handcuffed on the sidewalk.
Suddenly, the crowd parted and a reporter, followed by a cameraman, stepped forward and began taping me. “Are you Dorian Gale?” he asked as a police officer grabbed his arm and pulled him away. The cameraman continued to tape me before another officer stepped up, blocked him and ordered him to leave.
“Get them out of here!” barked Stewart. We were pulled to our feet and taken to an awaiting police van. I managed to sit beside Wes, and I pressed my body close to his. Darlene was placed in our van, but I didn’t see Jade. She must have been put in another.
Wes looked down and asked worriedly, “Are you all right?”
“Yes,” I assured him. “I’m okay.” In fact, now that everything was over, I felt proud of what I had done. I hadn’t backed out when I easily could have. Instead, I marched bravely forward with the others. I looked up and smiled at Wes. He leaned down and kissed me gently on the lips. I think he was feeling the same way I was.
Joseph asked if anyone was hurt. When we assured him we were all right, he began to explain what would happen next. “We’ll be taken to the county jail, booked and then jailed. Within a few hours, we’ll probably go before a judge. The judge will tell us what we’re being charged with, probably unlawful assembly or some shit like that. Plead not guilty. He or she will then impose a bail. I don’t think it will be too much, maybe a couple hundred dollars. Once someone posts bail, you’ll get to go home. He leaned around and looked at his watch. You’ll probably be sleeping in your bed tonight.”
For the next fifteen minutes, we talked excitedly about what had happened. I think everyone was like me, still pumped up with adrenaline. We talked about the effects of the mace on our eyes and breathing. No one could believe the officers had used pepper spray to stop us.
“I thought they would just walk up and handcuff us,” said Joseph. “Those mother fuckers played dirty.”
“It was Avery,” replied Darlene. “I took pictures of him on the steps of the history building.”
“Fucker!” spat Joseph. “You might as well forget pictures. Didn’t they confiscate your camera?”
“Yeah,” grinned Darlene. “But not before I forwarded the pictures to my editor.”
The next hour was exactly as Joseph explained. We were individually processed. They had us remove everything from our pockets. We were then photographed and fingerprinted. When we were finished, all the guys were placed into a holding cell. The girls, we assumed, were detained in a room together.
Besides Wes, Joseph and myself, there were eight other guys who had participated. I knew them because we had chatted at our Campus Pride meetings. I was surprised that Noah hadn’t joined us, but Joseph said Cameron had talked him out of marching. He said that Noah had been seriously beaten in high school, and Cameron was afraid that he might get hurt while participating in the march.
“I thought Avery was bluffing,” admitted Joseph. “He hates negative media attention for the school. Wait until he sees the evening news tonight,” he laughed.
Suddenly, I got sick to my stomach. I vaguely recalled a cameraman coming up to me as I sat on the curb with my eyes burning from pepper spray. There were probably hundreds of photos of me in the parade. There was no way my arrest was not going to be an important news event.
Sensing my change in mood, Joseph sat down beside me on the hard cement bench. “Relax, Dorian,” he said. “You took a stand for what you believe in.”
“Tell my father that,” I lamented sadly. Wes reached down and gripped my hand tightly.
“Fuck your father!” remarked Joseph angrily. “He’s a homophobic dickhead. How he can have a gay son, and not support gay rights, is unimaginable. So fuck him!”
After Joseph moved away to talk to another guy who had participated in the march, Wes and I talked quietly. “Why did you decide to join us today?” I had wanted to ask him that since he first showed up outside the library.
He looked at me and smiled. “Sydney,” he answered.
“Sydney? What did she have to do with it?”
“She came to my room last night,” he explained. “We had a long talk.”
“Sydney?” I asked again. He laughed when he saw the confused look on my face.
“She really loves you,” he said. “You’re lucky to have her as a friend.”
I replied, “I know that. But what did she say?” I couldn’t understand why she had visited Wes’s dorm room.
“Let’s just say she made me realize what an ass I am,” he said with a smile.
“She has a way of doing that,” I laughed. I wanted to lean in and kiss him, and I could tell he did too. However, we were aware that there were video cameras watching our every move, so we didn’t.
We talked a while longer until I grew tired. Wes told me to rest my head on his shoulder, and I fell asleep. I was awakened about an hour later when a guard opened the cell door and told all of us to follow him.
We were taken to a courtroom to await a judge for our arraignment. We were called individually to a stand as the judge unceremoniously announced the charges against us. We each stated we were not guilty, and she then imposed a five-hundred dollar fine and announced our next court date in three weeks.
For the first time since arriving, I saw Jade sitting at the other end of the courtroom. She smiled and raised her thumb triumphantly. I was glad she hadn’t been hurt. Darlene and Amanda were sitting beside her. None of them seemed upset to be sitting in a courtroom.
Fifteen minutes after returning to our cell, an officer unlocked the door, stepped into the room and said, “Gale and Hayes. Your bail has been posted. Follow me.” Wes and I followed him to a window where we signed a few forms, and then we were given a bag containing our belongings. When done, he escorted us to a door. When he opened it, Mrs. Hayes was waiting for us.
She rushed over and quickly embraced Wes. “Are you okay?” she cried. She stepped back and examined him closely. “They didn’t hurt you, did they?”
“No, Mother,” he responded. She then turned to me and hugged me tightly.
“Were you hurt?” she asked as she released me.
“No, Ma’am,” I assured her. “I’m all right.” We followed her out of the building and headed toward her car.
“Wait!” I exclaimed loudly and stopped.
Wes asked worriedly, “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t leave the girls in there,” I replied anxiously. “I have to get them out.”
Thirty minutes later, Jade, Amanda and Darlene exited the jail. After seeing how upset I was about leaving them incarcerated, Wes’s mother went back inside and posted their bail. When we came out of the courthouse, a large number of news reporters had gathered on the sidewalk. As soon as they saw me, the cameramen rushed over and began filming.
“Do you have anything you’d like to say?” One reporter asked as we rushed to the car.
Another shouted, “Does your father know you’re gay?”
“Will this hurt your father’s campaign?” Another shouted. Wes pulled me protectively into his side much like Seth had done and attempted to shield me from the reporters.
I had to laugh when Jade threw her fist into the air and shouted, “Gay Rights!” before climbing into the backseat beside me. Mrs. Hayes could hardly pull away because cameramen were attempting to videotape me in the backseat of the car.
“Holy Shit!” Jade exclaimed as we finally managed to leave the parking lot. “Can you believe that!”
Wes was sitting on my other side, and he asked worriedly if I was all right. I was afraid that the incident might scare him again, and he may have doubts about being with me. My worries were abated when he leaned down and kissed me on the lips.
We laughed when his mother loudly cleared her throat and asked, “Is anyone hungry?”
“Yes!” We shouted in unison. She laughed and then drove to a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings. I would have thought that after spending the past four hours in a jail, and then experiencing the mob scene outside the jail, our mood would have been somber. Yet, it was anything but that. We were cheerful and excited about what had happened.
When we entered the restaurant, someone pointed at us and shouted, “Oh, my God! It’s him!” It appeared that about thirty people were seated at tables and booths. I was surprised when several people stood and started applauding.
Jade asked, “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” I replied.
Wes pointed to a large screen television above the bar. “Look!” he exclaimed excitedly. I looked up and saw myself on the sidewalk attempting to wipe pepper spray from my eyes just as two campus officers grabbed me by my arms, lifted me to my feet and handcuffed me.
Under the picture were scrolling the words:
JONATHAN GALE’S SON ARRESTED AT A GAY PROTEST MARCH....VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE HAS NOT COMMENTED ON THE INCIDENT
Mrs. Hayes instructed Wes to take me to a back table far from everyone else while she and the girls went into the ladies’ restroom. When we sat down, everyone was staring at me.
Wes asked, “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yes,” I assured him. “But what about you?”
He reached under the table and grabbed my hand. “I knew when I came to the march today that something like this might happen. Sydney also made me realize that being with you meant sharing you with the world.” He squeezed my hand tighter. “So yeah, I’m okay with that.”
Before I knew what I was saying, the words, “I love you,” slipped from my mouth.
He looked around the restaurant, and I knew he wanted to kiss me. However, with so many people staring at us, he didn’t. He smiled broadly and said, “Me, too.”
His mother and the girls came from the restroom and made their way to the table. I noticed that a few people stopped them to talk. They were probably asking about the march they were watching on the television screen.
Jade sat down and remarked excitedly, “This is fun. I feel like a celebrity.” After sitting down, Darlene took out her cell phone and took a picture of us.
“A post-arrest picture,” she exclaimed.
“Well in that case,” Mrs. Hayes said as she took her phone out of her purse. “Sit next to Jade and let me take a picture of you, too.” She had to chastise us because we kept making stupid faces as she attempted to take a picture. Finally, we settled down, and she took a picture.
“I’m so proud of you,” she said as she sat down beside Wes. “I wish I could have joined you.” She looked over at Wes and frowned, “You told me you weren’t going to participate.”
Wes reached for my hand and squeezed it, “I changed my mind.”
A waitress approached the table and took our orders. Everyone ordered chicken wings and fries. Before leaving, the waitress asked shyly, “Are you really the guy on the television?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Cool,” she exclaimed as she turned and walked away. We continued to talk about the events of the day. Occasionally, someone would cautiously approach the table and ask if they could take a picture of me. Even though it was bothersome, I would nod my head and tell them they could.
About halfway through the meal, my cell phone rang. “Shit,” I hissed.
Wes asked, “Who is it?”
“My mother,” I replied worriedly. “Excuse me,” I said as I rose from the table and stepped away.
I put my phone to my mouth and said, “Hello, Mother.”
“Where are you?” she screamed. “I was told you were released a half hour ago. Where are you?”
“I’m fine, Mother,” I responded sarcastically. “Thank you for asking.”
“Don’t get smart with me,” she hissed angrily. “I asked you where you are?”
“I’m having a late dinner with friends.”
“Buffalo Wild Wings,” I said.
She hung up.
Wes asked me if everything was all right, but what could I say. I guess she just wanted to know if I was safe. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was very upset. She was probably angry because I had interrupted a fundraiser she and my father were attending.
The waitress brought the wings to the table, and we hungrily ate. None of us had eaten since lunch. Most of us thought we would march to Founder’s Square, Joseph would say a few words and then we would leave to grab a bite to eat. We had no idea events would unfold the way they did.
I had eaten my last wing, and I was wiping the barbeque sauce from my face, when I noticed two men in black suits enter the restaurant and look around. One poked the other in his side with his elbow and pointed at me.
“Shit,” I muttered loudly. Everyone turned to see where I was looking.
Wes whispered, “Who is it?”
“Secret Service,” I replied.
Jade exclaimed, “No shit!”
“That must mean my mother is here,” I informed them as the two men approached the table.
One looked down at me and scowled, “Dorian Gale?”
I looked up and responded, “Yes?”
“Would you come with us, please?” He folded his arms and waited for me to get up.
“No,” I replied adamantly. “I’m eating with friends.” The one speaking turned toward the other and nodded his head. He quickly exited the restaurant.
The remaining agent said politely, but sternly, “I’ve asked you to accompany me.”
Mrs. Hayes rose from her seat and stood before him. “Unless I’ve gone deaf, I believe I heard him say he didn’t want to go with you.”
The agent looked at her angrily. “I don’t believe this involves you,” he stated firmly.
“But it does,” she responded equally angry. “He’s a dinner guest of mine.”
He started to reply, but suddenly my mother entered the restaurant, followed by three secret service agents. She stormed to where I was sitting and ordered, “Get your ass out of that seat and come with me.” She turned abruptly and stormed back out of the restaurant. Two agents waited behind for me to accompany them.
Mrs. Hayes looked as if she was ready to confront the agents again. I knew from past experiences that secret service agents were federal authorities, and Wes’s mother might be arrested if she tried to stop them from doing their assigned duty. And right now, that assigned duty was making sure I left the restaurant, on my own or them bodily removing me.
“It’s all right, Mrs. Hayes,” I said as I rose to my feet. “I’ll go with them.”
She looked at me worriedly. “Are you sure, Dear?”
I laughed nervously. “She is my mother,” I replied. “What is she going to do, shoot me?” I looked at the agents and wondered if they were armed, and if one would indeed loan my mother his weapon. She appeared angry enough when she stormed out of the restaurant.
One of the agents firmly gripped my arm. “Come with me, Sir,” he stated as he started to lead me from the restaurant. As he escorted me down the aisle, numerous people were taking pictures of us with their cell phones.
“Just great,” I thought. “More pictures for the National Enquirer.”
When we were leaving, I looked back as Jade stood and shouted, “Kick ass!”